After blowing the doors of the Cornhuskers in Nebraska last Saturday, it is pretty obvious Illinois could've used the three tune-up games of 2020 to enter Big Ten play.
Illini beat writer Bob Asmussen says the slate of Bowling Green, Illinois State and UConn would've been great opportunities for the Illini to clean things up ahead of a favorable Big Ten opener against Rutgers in the original 2020 schedule. As it stands, Illinois took a tough draw opening with ranked Wisconsin and Minnestoa plus Purdue to start the 2020 football season.
Bowl games in 2020 will be very limited and the College Football Playoff only offers an opportunity to four teams with zero-margin for error, Illinois has stayed the course nicely winning their last two contests. Asmussen says Illinois can look at its circumstances and believe it wasn't entirely their fault given COVID hit the team in week 2.
Looking to the future, 2020 is not counting against anyone's eligibility this year. With very few players likely eyeing a move to the NFL next, Asmussen says you could see nearly the entire team back next year.
With 2020 not counting against the eligibility of this year's team, Asmussen believes that puts less pressure on recruiting for next year and should allow the coaching staff to focus in on the best players they can find.